Russia claims to have captured ‘Ukrainian saboteur’
A Ukrainian soldier who was allegedly trying to cross over into Russia from the other side of the shared border has been captured and is being held prisoner, the chief of the country’s security forces has claimed.
Speaking at a security council meeting on Monday, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said that two sabotage groups had entered Russian territory from the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic earlier in the day.
He added that they had both been destroyed “as a result of the battle by our border guards and the Russian defense ministry.” According to Bortnikov, the situation on the border is now stable and under control.
Earlier on Monday, Russia’s Southern Military District said that it had thwarted a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group from violating the country’s border. Five of Kiev’s soldiers were killed and two combat vehicles were destroyed in the firefight, according to Russia’s version of events.
Ukraine’s military, however, has said that Moscow’s claims of an attempted offensive orchestrated by saboteurs are false.
The incident comes as forces loyal to the breakaway regions and Kiev’s forces accuse each other of heavy shelling across the contact line. US President Joe Biden expressed concern last week that the uptick in fighting could be the beginning of a “false flag” operation, giving Moscow an “excuse to go in” and invade its neighbor. The Kremlin, however, has consistently denied it has any plans to launch an offensive and Putin has called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Separatist leaders in the two territories claimed on Friday they have intelligence that Kiev is positioned to order an incursion with the goal of reclaiming the regions, which declared their autonomy after the country’s government was toppled following the 2014 Maidan.
Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, however, rejected claims that the Eastern European nation has any plans to launch a full-blown attack on the Donbass. He claimed that “there is an attempt to provoke our forces,” adding that Ukrainian troops “can only open fire if there will be a threat to the lives of our service members.”